Saturday, June 18, 2011

Taking Resposibility... or Maybe it's Time to Give it Away?

I guess I have always been somewhat possessive of my "things". Don't get me wrong, I'm a sharer--and I would like to think that I am selfless and giving. I try to encourage my children to be generous. My husband and I are naturally givers. I do feel though that when I am really invested in something, I take full ownership. You know the old saying, "If you want something done right, do it yourself"? Well, I guess I take that to heart. Probably a little too much. Ironically, I often feel as though there is very little that I DO get done right, even when I do it myself.

When it comes to raising my children I am certain that I am doing them an incredible disservice some days. I know the line about a village raising a child. I agree with the concept. I love that there are people in our community that will impact my children's lives for the good and teach them lessons that I never could. When it comes to watching my children though, I feel guilty at the thought of asking someone else for help. I am not the mom that would EVER in a million years get a sitter so I could go shopping or do something that was optional. Heck, I took my 3 year old daughter to every single one of my OB/GYN appointments when I was pregnant with my third child. She was playing with her stuffed animals behind the examining table while my feet were in the stirrups.

I have seen mothers that call for a babysitter on a whim so they can go tanning or take a bubble bath. They ask a trusted neighbor, a relative or a friend to watch their child/children so they can shop for groceries. The concept of leaving my children with someone else is just absolutely foreign to me. There was a brief period of time that it was necessary for me to go back to work in between having my 2nd and 3rd daughters and they did spend a considerable amount of time with a daycare provider. My four children are not ALL with me ALL day long; my two oldest children ride the bus to school and are away from me for 7 1/2 hours 5 days a week. Homeschoolers aside, that's a pretty mainstream norm though. My kids don't go on playdates without me. And I don't go on playdates without them.

Before my husband and I got married we never went on a single date. We were in a long distance relationship and had ***very*** little face time before the big day. After the wedding bells rang we were just too poor to go on dates. I joke around now that we have too many kids to go on dates. Part of me feels irresponsible for dumping my kids with a sitter just so I can go "have fun". Part of me feels guilty asking someone to watch my FOUR kids. This is probably why I can count the number of "dates" my husband and I have gone on in the past 9 years on one hand.

Truth be told, I suspect the reason I don't want to ask anyone to watch my kids isn't because I think they are a nuisance or terribly misbehaved. I think that if I could be honest with myself, I would admit that I feel like I am the nuisance. I tell myself that I am just being a responsible mother. I reason that a mom who can leave her child with anyone without a real reason for needing a sitter is lazy. Irresponsible. Immature. Selfish.

I guess before I sat down to write this post I wanted to give a broad vision of the homemaker that stays home with her children and contrast that to the mom who spends more time away from her children, by choice, than she spends with her children. I wanted to say I'm tired of seeing moms that can leave their babies with just about anyone for just about any reason. I was willing to admit that I should go out with my husband every now and again. That maybe Ladies' Night Out wasn't so bad after all. I might have even found my ever elusive "Middle of the Road" (which, I was fairly certain, was most likely much closer to my side of the highway than hers) in this navigable journey through motherhood.

I didn't stop to think that maybe I'm judging harshly, in part, because I might be jealous. Is there really something wrong after all with a stay at home mom who gets a sitter a few times a week so she can go to lunch with friends or shop till she drops or snag a hot date with her hubby? Probably not. Is there something wrong with a mom who grabs a sitter at every possible opportunity because she can't stand being around her own children? Possibly. Is there something wrong with a stay at home mom who won't ask ANYONE for help because she's embarrassed, afraid or, dare I say, ashamed to admit that she can't do it all on her own? Probably.

I guess what I am saying, if anyone is out there listening, is that I need help. I'm not supermom. In fact, I'm so far from it that I'm not sure I would recognize competence in myself if I ever achieved it. I'm tired of trying to be great at everything that my family needs and instead disappointing them with only being able to be mediocre at a bunch of... well, stuff. I tired of feeling guilty. I'm tired of smiling at other women as they make lunch dates with each other while inwardly cringing at the thought of them having a good time while their child is at home needing their mother more than their babysitter, their grandmother, or even their own father. I'm tired of longing for life to be different, to feel full. I am tired of being tired. I want to try to be selfish. I want to be better. I want to feel happier--and not just for my children to see a happier mom, but for me to actually BE happy FOR ME.

My husband asked me the other day if he will ever see the "old" me again. I'd like to think that maybe there's a chance that the world can see a new me.


Anonymous said...

Times have changed so much just from when we were kids in the 80's, everything is so fast-paced. Whether you're a working mom or a stay at home, you're expected to do it all and 'it all'- is pretty hefty. Have the house shiny, all bellies full of 3 healthy meals a day, laundry, homework, meal planning, 'fun' planning, holiday planning, and all of it (for most of us) on a tight budget. Just planning a weekly grocery list is something I dread. Sometimes I wish I lived at a different time...when people lived off their own land and made occasional trips to town for what they needed. I too am one of those unsocial mom's...2 years ago I made a dear friend in my next door neighbor. We hit it off immediately and never have a conversation that isn't meaningful. She is a stay at home mother and so am I, I look out my bedroom window and see her's...and- I just went to her house tonight for the second time in 2 years. We text back & forth when I could stick my head out the window and talk to her... but neither of us judge the other for this, we are still dear friends, our responsibilites just keep us housebound. We are women, our job is NEVER EVER done...we do not get to clock out at the end of the day...I think because of this we tend to forget who 'we' are, forget the name and identity we had before becoming a parent. Not being able to just stay home and live off the land, having the added social pressure to not only have our children to be well-rounded and sociable but for US to be sociable as's stressful! I'll confess, I'm not sociable and active and neither are my children, they don't go on many playdates and they play no sports...I have a lot of guilt from this, as if I'm somehow letting them down. But I feel like our daily time together is so rare that I don't know when to fit in 'being social'. But honestly, the bottom line is that a good friend will love you regardless of how much physical time you have to invest in a relationship, they will come sit in your messy kitchen and not expect you to find a sitter so that you can meet up somewhere...I have literally lost friends because I didn't make the time for them, or maybe I just couldn't conform my time to meet their needs. There are mothers with 2 kids and 4 nannies, a housekeeper, a chef, seriously...they're out you think they feel guilty? No, they usually feel justified. I think the fact that you feel mediocre speaks volumes as to just how wonderful a person you are. Take time away from your family if YOU want it, not because other people think its the right thing to do...and getting a sitter does NOT make you inadequate, it makes you human. You have to remember what your name is, because if you completely will be pretty scary once the kids are gone. The 'old' you is still there (I see her wit & insane creativity on a daily basis and genuinenly smile), she's just underneath the many daily expectations of a modern is completely ok to be unable to do it all, you are much harder on yourself than anyone, that I promise! Thank God for putting REAL women like you in my life, who aren't afraid to voice their fears, let's me know that I'm not alone in it... With endless love and a virtual hug//Jess

Anonymous said...

I'm listening my friend and I support you in whatever you WANT to do. You're always a joy to hang out with. I know I can't even imagine the responsibilities you have on your shoulders. I'm praying for you friend to find that balance that eases these guilty feelings. Cause we all know God does not intend for us to walk under that pressure. You are a star of a great production that you and your hubby have created, without you the show would turn to a calamity for sure. You are amazing...and I'm not being paid to say this. :) Be lifted today my friend.

Anonymous said...

Heather after I read this post and what the other blogger had said and I too wanted to share a few thoughts with you. I can see what you are saying about wanting to give to your family and be there for your children and for hubby BUT you have to take time for yourself. You have not had time out for yourself in how long? Even a ten minute walk down the road? I know it is a 24 hour 7 day a week demand on you and you love being able to care for your family. I have a question for you, and the other blogger brought up a good point. What happens when the kids all grow up and move on with their lives? Then it is just you and hubby at home. Will you still “know” each other or will you just be the other person who spent several years raising cool kids together. Getting a babysitter or dear friend to watch your kids one night a month for a few hours is NOT a bad thing. Even one night every three months would be a good thing. If you two do not have alone time away for just a few hours you will loose that spark that makes your family run. What I can see in you and hear from talking to you and reading your last few post her is that your bucket is running low, and almost out! I have felt that way myself and it is not a good feeling. Why am I here? Why do I bother to do what I do in a day? Do these kids/ my husband know how much I NEED to be loved the way I am loving them everyday?
Yes God is here and he gets us through but what goes with that is he helps those who help themselves. You have to learn to take a few minutes for yourself each day. We have talked before and I struggle with the same feeling that you don’t want to be away from your husband and kids. You do love them and want to spend time with them. I have had times when I feel guilty for going out shopping by myself knowing my boys were fine. They too need time with daddy just as much as they need to be with me. At first it is hard to go and have that alone time, but you come back refreshed and you can breath a little easier. You may not be a super mom but you are a loving mom who does everything she can for her children, including sacrificing herself. Time to take time for Heather for the sake of the whole family.
Love you